As Americans ponder their New Year’s resolutions, they might find themselves inundated by fad diets, sensational nutritional claims and conflicting information.
Enter the International Food Information Council (IFIC), a nonprofit whose mission is to disseminate scientific information on food safety and nutrition to dietitians, teachers, reporters and government officials.
David B. Schmidt, newly elected president of the D.C. organization, said he looks forward to helping the council provide some context for dieters.
“Consumers are very confused these days,” said Mr. Schmidt, who worked for IFIC nearly 13 years and currently serves as executive vice president. “Everyone’s kind of looking for the magic bullet, whether it’s weight loss or other aspects of health.”
IFIC, formed in 1985 by a group of food scientists, does not adopt policy positions but seeks to provide scientifically accurate information to those who communicate directly to consumers, Mr. Schmidt said.
“We’re more worried about the right explanation on an issue than we are about promoting ourselves as an organization,” he said. “Our whole goal is really to bring balance and credible experts to the issues of the day in food safety and nutrition.”
IFIC acts as an arbiter on nutritional research, relying on its own registered dietitians, nutritionists and food scientists along with various industry advisers to scrutinize a new study, diet or guideline. When looking at a new study, the organization examines both the research methods and implications for food safety, Mr. Schmidt said.
When he takes over as president Jan. 1, Mr. Schmidt will oversee the 25-member staff and partnerships with specialists and food information organizations around the world. He also will serve as chief executive officer of the IFIC Foundation, which maintains the group’s Web site (www.ific.org) and produces other educational materials aimed directly at consumers.
“Dave has the vision, the passion and the breadth of experience to help IFIC elevate public understanding of key nutrition and food safety issues, both in the U.S. and globally,” said Celeste Clark, chairwoman of IFIC’s board of directors.
Mr. Schmidt said he plans to step up IFIC’s outreach to low-income consumers and those who speak English as a second language.
“People are very interested in food and health, and we try to stay on the cutting edge,” Mr. Schmidt said. “I’ve never been bored a day here.”
Before joining IFIC, Mr. Schmidt worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he was director of external affairs for the Food Safety and Inspection Service. He previously held sales positions at Oscar Mayer Foods Corp., Pepsi-Cola USA and Canada Dry Corp.
Mr. Schmidt, 47, lives in Leesburg, Va., where he was a member of the Town Council from 2000 to 2004.
— Kara Rowland